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The Asian side of the world

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Jean-François Sabouret

Part one. Regional dynamics and globalisation

Rice production systems in Asia

The constant presence of an essential cereal on a changing continent

Guy Trébuil

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May 2011

The rice plant (Oryza sativa species) was domesticated in Asia some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. At the beginning of the 21st century, it is still the leading cereal in human food systems, the main source of energy and represents a significant share of proteins consumed by almost three billion people. In certain Asian developing countries, the annual consumption per capita can reach 200 kg of white rice, but it falls to approximately 50 kg of high quality grains in rich and industrialised countries such as Japan. The annual global production of rice amounts to over 600 million tonnes of paddy rice (the whole grain rice before milling), 90% of which is located in Asia where the largest producing countries are China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand.

The crucial production of the “grain of life” depends on a myriad of very small family holdings often managing less than one hectare of paddy fields per household, in China for example, compared to four hectares in ...

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